For those of you who don't know, I'm originally from SE Texas, my family and friends are still in Port Arthur. With the threat of Hurricane Gustav in the Gulf, all of my attention will be trained on the news channels.
When Hurricane Rita hit three years ago, I lived in West Houston. My family and I chose not to evacuate because we were so far west I knew we wouldn't get any of the storm (and we didn't. Just 60/70 mph winds and a few hours of lost power). Plus, with the problems on the roads...no way was I going to suffer that with four kids and a dog! Just a five minute drive to the grocery store took 45 minutes to get home!
Anyway, my family (in the Port Arthur area) left a few days before the storm hit and were safely in Dallas when it pounded through...however, my brother, who's a CCU/ICU nurse supervisor couldn't leave until just hours before the storm hit because he was still evacuating patients. Of course he said by the time he hit the road, they were empty so his drive to Austin was short.
The day after the hurricane my husband was able to go into town (because of his job, he was in charge of the communication towers and had to inspect their damage) and took a side tour of the neighborhoods to see what damage was done to our family's homes. (Thankfully, not much on the outside). But, a week later, when residents were allowed to go back to assess damages, I went with my cousin (who had come down to stay with us so we could get the kids back in school) to Nederland to drop her husband home...he had to be back to work (at Dupont). The outside damage from the storm wasn't too bad. Her trampoline was now twisted metal leaning up against the neighbor's fence. Someone's metal roof was laying in the front yard along with a lot of branches (her husband quipped now he didn't have to hire someone to trim off the dead branches---humor is a great stress breaker). The woodslat privacy fence in the back yard was gone (most of the neighhorhoods lost their fences...in fact, that was the only damage my brother had at his house about ten miles away). But the worst damage to my cousin's house was the inside. Though they didn't have any major flooding in her neighborhood, what little there was got into the house. The 90 degree weather and loss of power....well, you can imagine what the carpet looked like. (I think one of those mold spores even moved! But the worst was the smell!! The grouper fish in the tank died, the freezer full of meat rotted (don't even get me started on why there was meat in the freezer!--I don't let her live that one down!) It smelled like a hundred people died in there! It was awful!
Anyway, with Hurricane Gustav possibly on a collision course with the area, no one is taking the evacuation order for granted. I really hate that I'm not still in Houston to offer refuse for my family especially since no one has really recouped financially from the Rita damage and therefore are going to really struggle with where they can afford to go. I'll be keeping a close eye on this storm via The Weather Channel and The PA News online edition. I'll also keep in touch via cell to my family to make sure they're okay.
So....where were you when the lights went out? And, if you're in the path, how are you preparing for this storm?